While in Tokyo, we had the pleasure of attending a creativity hub, where Akira Tsukakoshi introduced his new social enterprise Harappa Daigaku. Harappa translates from Kanji as empty lot. Akira-san explained is commonly recognised as a 'free play' space as depicted in many japanese cartoons. He compares the Harappa to an amusement park to highlight the differences in play where both can be equally exciting however the Harappa is about freedom of choice, imagination, passive learning, and creativity. As a father, Akira-san recognised that nowadays there is a gap in education and that creativity, problem solving, innovation and personal identity can only be brought about through play.
Akira, through Harappa Daigaku, runs a massive array of creative workshops and events from creating villages with cardboard boxes to water gun fights (the water guns are invented and created by the kids of course). But Harappa is not an event producer, it is a University. Kids and families sign up for a year long education in play through regular workshops, large scale events and even homework! Harappa sends out fun creative activities for the kids and families to complete at home. Akira- san has obviously recognised that there is not only a gap in formal education but in parenting as well. In our busy lives we, as parents, sometimes forget what it is to play and why we play. Harappa University delivers a degree in the importance of not taking life too seriously.
Akira-san threw out a number of words that painted a picture of what his work was all about - Fire, Water, Colour, Wood, Create, Destroy, Dance, Fight, Eat, Cut, Beat (as in to make music) - these were all accompanied by some amazing pictures depicting these activities. This wasn't all talk, he was doing it, they were doing it, experiencing it and learning from it whether they knew it or not.
Harappa University now has a programme in place for the next three years, with 300o participants, 50 events running for 24 hours. To find out more about Harappa University visit http://harappa-daigaku.jp/
Harappa hasn't rolled out it's curriculum in the UK yet, but in the mean time I suggest you and your family create your own education in play. Your kids will thank you for it.